JERUSALEM — It might be one of the more tense corners of the globe, but residents of the Holy Land can never resist the opportunity for a good laugh. That might be the reason people are going nuts over celebrity funnyman Conan O’Brien, who arrived in Israel on Friday.
The U.S. comedian and late-night talk show host is here filming an episode of his show “Conan Without Borders.” He said he plans to spend time in both Jerusalem and Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, but for now he is in Tel Aviv and the ancient port city of Jaffa. And he has been spotted soaking up the sunshine on the beach — albeit in a sun-protective shirt — enjoying the cuisine and checking out the “beautiful” Israeli women and their “buff” male folk.
So far, he seems to love Israel, and the feeling is mutual.
Throughout the weekend, Israelis filled social media with messages to the comedian and photos of chance encounters with him.
— Gil mishali (@gilmishali) August 27, 2017
— Emil-ay (@GippersChutzpah) August 27, 2017
In one Facebook post, Tel Avivian Miki Fromchenko wrote, “I went out to have a cup of coffee on the boulevard, and I wondered if it was legitimate to wear the shirt my friends and I had made at the age of twenty and had holes the size of Ramon Crater in the armpit area. In my naivety I thought I would go out, get coffee and go home, no one would see me, but Conan liked the shirt.”
It appears that the star swapped shirts with Fromchenko.
Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is scheduled to meet O'Brien in Jerusalem on Monday, chimed in, posting a greeting on his Twitter account:
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) August 27, 2017
On Saturday, Conan posted a video on Facebook summing up his impressions. Standing at an overlook in Jaffa with Tel Aviv in the background, he describes tasting “shakshuka,” the popular egg-and-tomato breakfast dish, and drinking a Goldstar beer.
#ConanIsrael live from Jaffa!
Posted by Conan O'Brien Presents: Team Coco on Saturday, August 26, 2017
“I am looking forward to seeing all the old sites, but the best part is the people, having these funny exchanges with other human beings all around the world; that I like the most,” he said.
Then he quipped: “We’re gonna go to Jerusalem, and we’re also gonna go to Bethlehem … I hope I can get a room because Jesus had some trouble.”
O'Brien got people here laughing before he had even landed, posting a video from inside the bathroom on an El Al flight, saying he was brushing up on his Hebrew.
“You can see it says 'towel disposal,' " he said, pointing to Hebrew wording under the English equivalent.
“I recognize the words from the Old Testament when Moses tells his people to listen to the commandments and, also, to dispose of their towels … he almost made it into a commandment,” O'Brien quipped.
O’Brien announced his trip two weeks ago, joking that he planned to help Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and official U.S. envoy for the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Kushner met with officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah, in the West Bank, last week.